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HP High Court’s landmark judgment brings huge relief to children with disabilities

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umang foundation

Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. It took years of fight for the rights of children with disabilities, but Ajai Shrivastva finally made the High Court hear the grievances of children with special needs. Court also awarded the NGO with Rs. 100,000 to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children.

SHIMLA- The High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in a landmark judgement, has directed the Himachal Pradesh Government to provide free education to the students with disabilities up to university level. The court has also enhanced the amount of their scholarship.

Now Himachal Pradesh will become the first state in the country to ensure absolutely free education. As per the disability law in India the disabled students have right to get free education up to the age of 18 years only. Now thousands of poor students with disability will be benefitted in Himachal Pradesh and the State Government is directed by the Court to enact law for the purpose within six months.

This historic judgement was delivered by the division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, taking suo motto cognizance of a letter written by Ajai Srivastava, Honorary Chairman of Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust, and a noted disability rights activist on the plight of disabled students to the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court in July 2011. The Court also awarded Rs. one lac to the Umang Foundation to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children. The Court also granted various other relives to the disabled students.

The Bench observed,
“It is their (the disabled) fundamental right and basic human right to be housed, protected with all basic amenities, i.e. food, clothing, special health care, provision for compulsory and free education and avenues for employment.”

The Judges also said,

 

The advanced society is the one which is sensitive towards the children with special needs. It is our fundamental duty to show them path and to preserve their dignity and respect. All efforts should be made to assimilate them in the main stream and there should not be feeling amongst the disabled children that they are left alone on lonely island.

The court directed the H.P. University and other two State Universities to make necessary amendments in the respective ordinances and prospectus for providing free education to the disabled students. The court also directed the H.P. State Public Service Commission and H.P .Subordinate Service Selection Board to amend their regulations accordingly within a period of six months.

The Judges said,

 It is the duty of the State to provide free and compulsory education to the children with special needs up to University level and all the professional courses in all the educational institutions under Articles 21/ 21 –A of the Constitution of India. It is also the duty of the State to provide financial support to these children by increasing their scholarships, stipends from time to time taking into consideration the price rise/ inflation under Article 41 of the Constitution of India.

With these observations, the judges made a direction to the Government to enhance scholarships for the disabled hostellers and day scholars.

Emphasizing the need to provide latest assistive technology to the blind students to “hone their skills to be self dependent”, the court ordered to provide screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech recognition software, text-to-speech (TTS)software, optical character recognition (OCR)software, large monitors, hand held magnifiers and standalone reading machines to them.

The court censured the State Government for the short comings in the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. The Bench said, “The Himachal Pradesh University, H.P. Board of School Education, Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, H.P. Agriculture University, Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission and H.P. Subordinate Service Selection Board have failed to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per Section 31 of PWD Act, 1995.” It directed them to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per the law.

In the judgement, the Court took a strong exception of not filling the posts of teaching faculties in the Government’s Special School for blind and deaf girls at Sundernagar and Special School for blind and deaf boys at Dhalli, Shimla run by H.P. State Council for Child Welfare and said,

Ordinarily the Court cannot issues direction for sanctioning and creation of posts, but extraordinary situation required extraordinary measures.

It directed to create and fill up various posts of teachers and other supporting staff on regular basis in the two Special Schools within six months.

However, considering the attitude of Government towards high court’s many other directions given in past, it’s really hard to believe that HP government will be able to implement anything in six-months. It’s the judiciary that has passed a highly kind judgement, but implementation lies in the hands of the same MLAs and government officials who had been ignoring the grievance of children with disabilities all these years. Our government lacks will to serve the public as well as people who are willful to serve.

Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. Not just children with disabilities but the NGO has been fighting for the rights of destitute women and mentally ill inmates of Home for Destitute Women in Mashobara. On a number of occasions, Ajai Shrivastva has come ahead to help people in need.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Parents Burn Fee-Booklet of Shimla’s Private School In Protest, Allege Govt Directions Made No Difference

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Parents Protest outside auckland house school shimla

Shimla-The written directions issued to all private schools running in Himachal Pradesh from the State Directorate of Higher Education on March 18, 2019, to review their unreasonable and hefty fee structures and reduce unnecessary charges has made no impact on any institution.

This is what the parents alleged on March 22, 2019, while protesting outside the Auckland House School in Shimla. The parents shouted slogans against the fleecing of private schools with unreasonable, hefty fees. They burnt a fee-booklet of the Auckland House School in protest.

Parents protest in Shimla against private schools

The parents have staged multiple protests during the last two to three weeks. The Directorate had to issue a fresh notification to private schools after the student-teacher forum gheraoed its office on March 14, 2019.  

The Directorate had asked the schools to cut down their fees to reasonable amounts, stop the sale of books and uniform in schools or pressurizing parents to purchase them from particular shops. The schools were told that they can’t make it mandatory for students to pay charges for tours/picnics. Further, the Directorate had warned schools of stringent action against if they failed to abide by the provisions of the Private Educational Institute (regulatory) Act, 1997, and Right of Children To Fee and Cumpulsory Education Act, 2009.

Directions Issued on 18 March 2019 by Edu Directorate

Fees-of-Private-Schools-in-Himachal-Pradesh

On Friday, however, the forum alleged that despite the notification issued by the Directorate, private schools did not pay any heed to its warning.  The schools still issued fee booklets without reviewing their fee structures.

The convener of the forum, Vijender Mehra, said that these schools not only ignored the notification but also committed contempt of the State High Court.

The forum has now warned the higher officials of the Education Directorate that if they did not ensure compliance to the court orders, FIRs would be filed personally against them.

The co-convener of the forum, Bindu Joshi, said the Directorate issued written directions to these schools only for the sake of formality. The Government is not showing any interest in the implementation of the Private Educational Institute (Regulatory) Act, 19997, and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, she said.

The forum is demanding the formation of a regulatory commission to stop the commercialization of education in the State.

The forum said its series of protests would continue until implementation of the directions issued by the Directorate is ensured.

The voices of protests can be heard in Himachal Pradesh time and again. However, it appears the parents, who are financially squeezed by private schools, wants to fight a final battle to make their unrest heard.

A couple of weeks ago, parents protest in Solan district had forced the St. Luke School, to cut down its fees to half. The student-parent forum is urging all parents to unite in the same way to put some check on the arbitrary working of private schools across the State.

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Video: On Duty Policemen Thrashed by Group of Miscreants in Shimla

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Youth clash with shimla police on holi

Shimla- Two policemen were reportedly injured after a dozen of miscreants clashed with them during Holi celebrations on the Ridge Shimla today.  The celebrations were foiled with violence and hurling of vulgar abuses. The scene was captured by a local on a mobile phone, and the video is being circulated on social media.  

As per the Shimla Police, today some people were celebrating the Holi at the Ridge Shimla. At about 12.15 PM, a group of some youth were spotted creating a ruckus, and when the policemen tried to stop them, they clashed with the police and beat them brutally. Two of the policemen were reportedly injured.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Pramod Shukla confirmed the report. The youths were said to be drunk.

As per initial reports, one of the accused was detained, while remaining accomplices fled the scene. There was no word on the identity of the culprits yet. The police said the rush on the Ridge made it difficult to identify them.

An FIR was filed at the Sadar Police Station under Sections 353,332,147,149 of the IPC for the assault and obstructing on-duty police officials. The police said further investigation is in progress.  

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UHF Nauni Station Becomes India’s ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’

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Dahlia in full bloom at RHRTS Dhaulakuan

Solan- As good news for the farmers of Himachal Pradesh engaged in floriculture, the Regional Horticulture Research and Training Station (RHRTS), Dhaulakuan of the Dr YS Parmar University and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has been designated as the ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’ in the country.

As per the university, this is a big shot in the arm for Dahlia cultivation in the state as the flower has been introduced in Himachal for the first time under the project. The research conducted at the station could pave the way for its adoption by farmers for commercial cultivation.

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, GoI has given the prestigious national level designation to the research station.

The status of National level Lead entre of dahlia testing is a big achievement for the station as Dahlia is among the most admired winter flowering plant. It is a recognition of the work carried out at the research station and is expected to catalyze commercial cultivation of this flower in the state,

said Dr AK Joshi, Associate Director RHRTS, Dhaulakuan.

He added that several cultivars will be added to the present germplasm and farmers will be able to get rooted plants in the future. UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma and Director Research Dr JN Sharma congratulated the scientists.

The research station forayed into floriculture in 2012, mainly in ornamental plants, but has since made rapid strides in this area. In 2016-17, under a PPV&FRA funded project worth Rs. 18 lakh, over 50 cultivars of dahlia of different shapes, colours, sizes and categories were introduced at the station from different reliable nurseries and departments from Uttarakhand and adjoining areas.

Elaborating on the research, Dr Priyanka Thakur, Principal Floriculturist and main investigator of the project told that the objectives were the development of Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing guidelines of dahlia and evaluation of species/ cultivars. The morphological characterization, development of DUS testing guidelines and the establishment of DUS centre for dahlia at the station is presently underway.

The farmers of Himachal can adopt this new crop for cut flower as well as pot plant production, which can not only help in diversification but also boost the economy and raise farm incomes.

The newly introduced dahlia cultivars are suitable for pot plant production, borders, mass plantations and cut flowers etc. Cultivars like Matungini, Mother Teresa, Sister Nivedita, Tenzin, Suryadeva, Jishu, Gilody, SP Kamla have been found suitable for low hill conditions. Matungini, Jishu, Sohini, Black Eternity, Surya Deva, Maa Sharda have been found suitable for cut flower production.

Often called the ‘King of flowers’, Dahlia is grown both for indoor and outdoor elegance. The height of plants differs with variety and can vary from two-inch lollipop style pompoms to the giant 10-15 inch ‘dinner plate’ blooms growing to a height of 4-5 feet.

These cultivars remain in flowering from Feb to May. Farmers can reap rich dividends by selling cut flowers, pot and as landscape plants and through the production of rooted plants. The students of the university are also working on the evaluation of dahlia varieties for the low hill conditions of Himachal Pradesh.

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